NIST announces winners of dashboard design comp

Tuesday, 06 June, 2023

NIST announces winners of dashboard design comp

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently announced the winners of the final phase of the Command Dashboard Integrating Next-Gen Technology (CommanDING Tech) Challenge, a four-phase competition for designing next-generation incident command dashboards for first responders.

Many incident command dashboards are limited by the quality of their user interfaces and an inability to access certain types of data. The CommanDING Tech Challenge aimed to incentivise the creation of new dashboards with improved user interface/user experience (UI/UX) designs that incorporate video, sensor and map data, as well as real-time indoor tracking and video analytics, using mobile and web-based solutions. Winning submissions were judged on UI/UX design, innovation, use of technology, commercial viability and effectiveness during simulated live scenarios.

“The CommanDING Tech Challenge put prototypes of next-generation incident command dashboards into the hands of first responders,” said Scott Ledgerwood, the UI/UX portfolio lead for NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research Division. “The winning dashboards allowed incident commanders to take action and maintain situational awareness when responding to complex incidents. It’s exciting to see how this research can impact the public safety mission.”

First place winner Headwall VR, from Maryland, was awarded US$130,125 for a solution that allows a digital twin of a command centre to be deployed quickly and compactly in a virtual or mixed reality headset. The user can then have access to the entire complement of situational awareness tools that lie within the master command centre.

Second place winner BadVR, from California, was awarded US$96,000 for a solution that provides commanders with an immersive sandbox environment in which they can place and rearrange dynamic data visualisation components with live collaboration, lowering cognitive load and increasing situational awareness during high-stress scenarios.

Third place winner TurnRock Labs, from Washington, was awarded US$52,750 for developing a comprehensive decision-support operations and forecasting environment called SpaceJam that can support the mission of the nation’s warfighters, first responders and law enforcement officers.

Fourth place winner Engineering Dynamics, from Maryland, was awarded US$34,625 for an incident command dashboard featuring a tactical map that shows personnel location and status, available cameras and environmental factors (such as hazards and temperature) in an accessible display without excessive distractions.

In addition to cash prizes, all finalists were invited to demonstrate their solutions at 5x5: The Public Safety Innovation Summit, to be hosted by NIST and FirstNet Authority at the end of June.

NIST’s next competition, The First Responder UAS Three-Dimensional (3D) Mapping Challenge (UAS 5.0), will ask competitors to develop an affordable unmanned aircraft system (UAS) solution that will provide public safety with accurate positioning and high-quality 3D digital mapping in real time. The 3D mapping capability will support first responders in indoor missions where a natural disaster has created a constrained environment due to a partially collapsed structure with smoke and limited light.

“This challenge will develop uncrewed aircraft prototypes with unique capabilities that may soon help first responders improve the time spent locating a victim or remove obstacles that may cause harm to themselves,” said Terese Manley, the UAS portfolio lead for NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR). “The winning solutions of this challenge are designed to provide an incident commander with additional tools to make informed decisions. A UAS with enhanced visual images and video can be used to capture 3D maps from inside a building or collapsed infrastructure where it’s not safe to enter. This improved situational awareness can impact the public safety mission and limit loss of life.”

The challenge offers competitors up to US$987,500 in prizes throughout the four stages, which include a head-to-head flight competition and an accelerator stage where teams can expand on their research or market readiness. A panel of judges and subject matter experts, with expertise in UAS, public safety missions and academia, will determine prize recipients through each stage of the competition.

Submissions for Stage 1 of the competition close on 16 June, with multiple stages running through September 2024. To learn more about the challenge and register, visit

Image caption: Dereck Orr, Head of Public Safety Communications Research at NIST, trying out a virtual incident response dashboard at the CommanDING Tech Challenge event. Image credit: NIST.

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